Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Nat Sci Sleep. 2012 Sep 27;4:111-32. doi: 10.2147/NSS.S10372. Print 2012.

Shift work: health, performance and safety problems, traditional countermeasures, and innovative management strategies to reduce circadian misalignment.

Author information

1
Biological Rhythms Research Laboratory, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, USA.

Abstract

There are three mechanisms that may contribute to the health, performance, and safety problems associated with night-shift work: (1) circadian misalignment between the internal circadian clock and activities such as work, sleep, and eating, (2) chronic, partial sleep deprivation, and (3) melatonin suppression by light at night. The typical countermeasures, such as caffeine, naps, and melatonin (for its sleep-promoting effect), along with education about sleep and circadian rhythms, are the components of most fatigue risk-management plans. We contend that these, while better than nothing, are not enough because they do not address the underlying cause of the problems, which is circadian misalignment. We explain how to reset (phase-shift) the circadian clock to partially align with the night-work, day-sleep schedule, and thus reduce circadian misalignment while preserving sleep and functioning on days off. This involves controlling light and dark using outdoor light exposure, sunglasses, sleep in the dark, and a little bright light during night work. We present a diagram of a sleep-and-light schedule to reduce circadian misalignment in permanent night work, or a rotation between evenings and nights, and give practical advice on how to implement this type of plan.

KEYWORDS:

bright light; circadian rhythms; melatonin; night work; phase-shifting; sleep

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Dove Medical Press Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center